Hello friends. As the year winds itself down, I’ve been feeling unsurprisingly reflective. The last 12 months have rewired my brain in a lot of ways, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned in my first year as an entrepreneur. It still feels weird to say that; after working for other people my whole life, I still can’t quite believe it’s just me and the cats, day after day.
I’ve had a pretty colourful employment history. When I was in university I worked full time at a Chrysler plant, building mini-vans on a midnight shift before showing up for classes, haggard and smelling like industrial lubricants. After I moved to Montreal, I ran the gamut of the under-employed 20-something before going back to school and working as an interior designer; I’ve been a waitress, bartender, cleaning lady, telemarketer – often a combination of the four. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I never really had a job that made me want to work hard. Until now. Working for you guys is the best kind of service; infinitely more satisfying than serving shots to drunk frat boys.
All the cliches about going into business for yourself are more or less true, at least for me. It is often incredibly stressful and fulfilling, in the exact same moment. It’s hard on your relationships. It can take its toll on you physically if you’re not mindful. It will keep you up at night. It can also give you a sense of purpose and drive that makes the world feel sharp and bright and full of possibility. It’s all of these things simultaneously, creating this weird, wonderful stew of anxiety, happiness, exhaustion and manic energy. I call it Go Sauce.
Here’s what Go Sauce has taught me this year.
Carry a notebook and pen at all times. Otherwise you’ll find yourself on the street, trying to sketch that chic lady’s outfit on a dirty napkin with an old lipstick.
Working with old guy graders is as infuriating as working with boy’s club contractors. They will make you feel small and stupid even when you know they are wrong about that crotch curve. Choking back tears on the phone is not the way things should work. The day you find your soulmate grader is the day the sun starts shining.
You will thank your old boss every day in your head for teaching you how to properly label and organize files. Your brain may be a chaotic mess of zygote ideas, to-do lists and Joni Mitchell lyrics, but your computer looks like an army squad doing a thousand pushups in synchronicity.
Your supportive network of creative makers will make you want to hug your computer and fly around the world to deliver Edible Arrangements in person. Having peers you can count on for a shoulder, a rant, a question, an opinion or a high five is the only way you can work alone all day and not go a little crazy.
You need to go for walks. You need to go for walks. You need to go for walks.
You need to put on real clothes. You need to put on real clothes. You need to put on real clothes and go for a walk.
Inbox Zero takes all of the anxiety out of email. Archive, archive, archive.
The Evernote developers should win a humanitarian award.
Taking a real lunch break every day and sitting at your sunny little kitchen island with a good book and a homemade meal is the key to mental health.
When you feel like procrastinating, clean the house. If you’re going to be a no-good slacker, at least make yourself useful.
Just ask. You never know. Nothing ever got done from staying silent.
When you find yourself talking a little too much to the cats throughout the day, it’s time to meet your girlfriends for a drink.
If you want your friends to actually meet up with you, don’t talk about work the entire time. It’s really not that interesting to anyone but you.
If you want to put your head through a window every time you think about accounting, hire a bookkeeper. You can’t afford him, but your time is more valuable than money. Resist the urge to smother him in a bodycrushing hug when he tells you how simple it is going to be from now on.
You will be shocked at how much you don’t mind being a little broke. Being free is its own weekly wage.
You are horrible at estimating how longs thing will take. Stop kidding yourself and just take whatever wildly optimistic amount of time you have allotted and double it. Triple it, actually. Computers crash, suppliers disappear, you need to sleep. Don’t be cheap with time.
People can occasionally be mean on the internet. Get over it. Shake it off and get back to work.
When you need to hear other human voices, the Gilmore Girls, Buffy and The Good Wife make excellent sewing companions.
Constructive criticism is a gift. Listen, learn, adapt.
This is your chance to make up for all the jerks you ever worked for or with. Strive to be kind and understanding whenever possible. It works.
No one is an expert at anything until they put their head down and do the work, over and over and over again. Do the work. Read, learn, push, ask questions.
Know when to take a step back. Perfectionism is a silent killer. Just ask Axl Rose.
Whenever you’re having a bad day, blare Drunk in Love and dance around your apartment like your limbs have a mind of their own.
Go Sauce taught me a lot.
I’ve had some time to sit down and dream list some ideas, and I’m pretty jazzed about what’s to come for Closet Case Files in 2015. Many more patterns to come, one by the end of January if all goes well. I’ve become obsessed with designing perfectly proportioned, beautiful things you will actually wear every single day, and I’ve got some fun ideas in the pipeline.
I’ve also thought a lot about making this space the best it can be. This was a personal sewing blog long before it was anything else; I love writing, I love posting, and I’m so grateful to have this little corner to share what’s going on in my closet, my studio and in my brain.
Thank you so much for reading, and for supporting, teaching and inspiring me this year. I’m a little in awe that I get to engage with such awesome people every day. For you, I wish an exciting year of growth, learning, love, friendship and endless sewjo. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, and Happy New Year!!